Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday from Sweet Tea Cooking! Today is the first post in a series that we call “Y’all Come Eat Now”. That’s how my grandma always called us to the table and that’s how I’m calling y’all to the Sweet Tea Cooking table! All of the dishes that will be featured on “Y’all Come Eat Now” are going to be family recipes that have been shared with me by both friends and family.
To things kick things off my own Mama Mona let me in her kitchen…with her…at the same time…THIS…ACTUALLY…HAPPENED…PEOPLE! As we touched on in an earlier post Mama Mona is a bit of a lone wolf when it comes to cooking. She likes to just do things her way and I get it. My parent’s ended up with a daughter that spent most of her 20’s referring to Chef Boyardee as her personal chef. My mom did show me how to make a grilled cheese so that’s how the “The Jessie Special” was born. Any can of Chef Boyardee and 2 grilled cheese sandwiches can be dinner for 2 and takes about 7 minutes to get on the table. My mom’s specialty dish is much more elaborate and iconic than mine. She has been making lasagna for about as long as I can remember. She said that she first started making it not long after she got married. My Dad liked Italian food and nobody in her family really made it so she looked up a recipe in a cookbook and took a crack at it. Well we’re all glad that she did! Mom would always have one ready for when guest came over or when we had a lot of people to feed at one time. They are a great dish to assemble, freeze whole, and bake as needed. These types of dishes are right up my alley! I love having something that puts a good homemade dish on the table without having to actually cook after a long day at work. It helps decrease our reliance on “The Jessie Special”.
I’m going to list the ingredients and directions exactly as Mama Mona did it. I will give you the warning right now that my parent’s house has 2 full fridges and 2 giant freezers so the Bentley’s have zero concern with food storage space. For those of us without all of that luxurious space may want to adjust the ingredients or (even better) share the cheesy, gooey wealth and pass a tray on to someone who could use it!
Mama Mona’s Lasagna
serves a small army
Granddaddy* sized Aluminum Baking Trays (2-3)
Large Mixing Bowls (2- one for cheese filling, one for meat sauce)
Lasagna noodles (2 boxes)
Ricotta (2- 3 lb. tubs)
Mozzarella , shredded ( 2- 32 oz. bags, reserve 1 cup for topping)
Parmesan, shredded (4 oz. bag)
Pasta Sauce (2- 67 oz. jars of traditional AND 2- 24 oz. jars of a flavor of your preference, reserve about a cup for lining your trays)
Italian Seasoning (Bentley’s are McCormick loyal but whatever you have is fine)
Ground Beef (6 lbs.)
- Boil water for noodles, about a tbsp. oil to keep the noodles from sticking and a few shakes of salt and pepper, and cook per box al dente instructions (had to be cooked in 2 batches)
- Once the noodles are done cooking run them under cold water so they do not continue cooking
- Brown & drain ground beef (this needed to be cooked in 2 large pots there was so much meat)
- Dump ground beef into a bowl once it’s done cooking and mix
While the noodles and ground beef are cooking you can make the cheese filling
- In mixing bowl dump 1 tub of ricotta, ½ bag of mozzarella, and ½ bag of parmesan then mix with hands. (I tried to avoid it but there is no spoon strong enough for this much cheese!)
- Once that is fully incorporated then add the second tub of ricotta, rest of mozzarella (minus the cup you’ve set aside), and the rest of the parmesan and mix
- Assemble! You can layer it up the way that you like but Mona recommends doing a double layer of noodles as the base. Her tried and true method is noodle, meat sauce, cheese mix, noodles, meat sauce, and heavy sprinkle of the reserved mozzarella cheese and a few shakes of Italian seasoning
- Mona’s lasagna only had two layers of noodles due to the cheese, and meat sauce layers being so thick so adjust per personal preference
- You can either wrap the whole tray with saran wrap and aluminum foil and freeze or loosely cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour remove foil for last 10 minutes to ensure that the cheese topping melts
- I found my mini pan to be so dense that it took about 50 minutes at 350 degrees. For a large tray I would maybe set the timer for an hour and evaluate if it needs to be baked for longer. For the big trays that we used I would think that they would take about 90 minutes based on how long my mini pan took.
I hope that you guys get a chance to make Mama Mona’s lasagna. It was fun to finally learn how to make this myself. There are some great cooking sessions lined up for “Y’all Come Eat Now”. I’m so excited to get into the kitchen with so many cool people! If you have a dish that you’d like to share and teach me how to cook let me know in the comment section below! The dishes do not need to have multi-generational tradition. Even if it’s a dish that you taught yourself and is important to you then I’d love to hear about it.
*Granddaddy is an actual measurement in my family. It’s a nice way of saying “big ass, ginormous, huge, el gigante”…you get the idea.
Jessie’s Garlic Bread
In a small bowl spoon about ½ tsp (more if you’re a bold person!) of chopped garlic and about 3 tablespoons of butter and microwave to melt. Brush melted butter on any available bread that you have and sprinkle with italian seasoning and bake for about 3-4 minutes as the lasagna finishes up then broil for about a minute once you take out the lasagna…keep an eye on it!!